Nashville Film Festival 2020*
About a year ago, on this very website, I wrote the following:
Going to a film festival is its own experience. For the most part, it’s a positive experience. By the same token, it’s a positive experience that ends, and you kind of hate to see it ending. So, afterwards, in the name of psychic defense, you try to zero in on what you won’t miss about the thing.
I had written reviews of all the films I’d seen, and wanted to get one more piece out of the festival, so I wrote a snarky piece about the parts of the Nashville Film Festival that left me amused and/or annoyed. I focused on the advertisements that ran before all the films, and on the actual experience of being at the festival. I said the following:
…you, and a bunch of other people, have just been through a shared experience. That’s the thing, that’s the crux of it right there. You’ve been through a shared experience. One thing, and one thing alone, has united you with a legion of total strangers. For humans, that’s an experience common and uncommon—uncommon in that shared experiences won’t make up the majority of the average human life, but common in that they will make up a huge percentage of what humans remember about those lives. Sometimes it’s a church service. Sometimes it’s a rock concert. Sometimes it’s sports. In this instance, it was watching the hell out of movies. For weeks, you’ve spent most of your days at a movie theatre, surrounded by film buffs and film industry folk. You’ve been in the midst of t-shirts flogging every cartoon character, superhero, and indie band in the world, by more pairs of skinny jeans than are on display at the Slenderman family reunion. Every pair of glasses and every hat has been ironic. The males have been clunky hipsters, the women have been both boho and unaccessably gorgeous.
(And they, the skinny-jeaned, horn-rimmed elite, have the advantage of being cliquish, of standing in the hallways between screenings, talking in circles, inevitably reacting to this or that observation with “Ohhhhhhhhhhh!” You, on the other hand—if You are Me, which, for the sake of this piece, You are—are letting your social anxiety get the better of you, and not joining the cliques; you’re clearly not as cool as they are—I mean, you have a day job at a call center, peasant! So you remain off to yourself, writing and observing and trying to decide if, at a film festival, it’s considered gauche to get concessions and bring them in. You finally decide that you don’t care, you’re hungry, damn it, and so you get a 6” pizza and a bag of miniature Kit-Kat bars, and you really enjoy both, and having cut loose of 15 quid for them, you should.)
I was grousing about some of the experiences, and grousing about how I personally handled them, and trying to process the disappointment of the festival being over.
Now, as you likely know, it’s October of 2020. That means it’s time for the 51st Nashville Film Festival, and I, your ob’t serv’t., will be covering it again as I have for the past two years. Except that I won’t be covering it as I have for the past two years.
I look back now at October of 2019—literally only one farkarkte year ago—as a wonderful and nostalgic time, part of the phrase I’ve so happily borrowed from Stephen King: yes, last year’s film festival is now squarely rooted in The Land of Ago.
You know why. Because between October of 2019 and October of 2020, there came It.
You know what It is. It has been here since March, and has spent every day since March in a pissing contest with the President to see which of them can ruin the most things for the most people. I would contend they’re in a dead heat. I’ve written on here about what It did to me; I haven’t caught It, nor given It to my immunosuppressed wife, but It did manage to invade my mind and soul early on, leading me to my documented soup-buying meltdown.
Well, now, It has scored again, because It, suffice to say, makes something like a film festival problematic. We can’t exactly have, after all, large groups of people…well, I was going to say what the large groups of people would be doing (watching movies, looking cool, intimidating me), but really, that’s academic, isn’t it? We can’t exactly have, after all, large groups of people. So, this year, the Nashville Film Festival is still happening, but it’s happening virtually. The movies are being streamed online at https://watch.eventive.org/nashfilm2020 which means that when you read about a film I review and are interested, you actually have a way to see it, maybe right after reading the review, though some films are only available to be streamed in Tennessee.
That’s all well and good, in that it democratizes, if you will, the festival experience, but honestly, it kinda sucks for me, because…well, it turns out I miss all the things I groused about. This year, there won’t be schmoozing with other film buffs. There won’t be the perceived need to grovel at the feet of Actual Film Industry People. I won’t have the triumph of overcoming my social anxiety enough to talk to someone. There won’t be six-dollar bags of miniature Kit Kat bars. I won’t even have an actual physical press pass that I can put on the wall of my cubicle at work afterwards, so anyone who sees it knows I’m a big-shot film critic and not just a schmuck at a call center. Instead, this year, it’ll be myself and my wife, sitting on our love seat, watching films on a laptop, periodically moving our cats out of the way.
Yeah, yeah, I know…it’ll be a pure experience, just me and the movies, yadda yadda yadda.
(This is the part where you feel sorry for me.)
*Oh, in case you’re wondering why there’s an asterisk in the title of this piece, it’s because this year’s festival has to be factored into the history books differently, like Roger Maris.